Some 40 Million people visit the country of Germany every year. It is one of the 10 most visited countries in the world. There a few things that Germany is known and recognized for, even to people who have never had the chance to visit: Oktoberfest, beer, cars, autobahn and soccer. Those who have had the opportunity to travel to any of the German cities, big or small, will have experienced the beautiful atmosphere, character, architecture and culture that is so uniquely and notably German. Many German cities have something they are uniquely recognized and famous for.
Berlin, the capital, is the biggest city in Germany, both in population (3.7 million), and in area (344 mi² ). Now a cosmopolitan, international city (it is the most visited city in Germany), it also holds holds a special place in history. Visitors can still visit what is left of the Berlin Wall, now covered in street art and graffiti. The East Side Gallery, a 4,318-ft stretch of the wall that has been covered in art and paintings by artists from around the world, is considered on of the largest and oldest open-air galleries in the world.
The city of Munich, capital of Bavaria, hosts the annual Oktoberfest, which draws millions of visitors every year. Hamburg, the country’s second largest city, has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined. Famous for its bustling nightlife around the Reeperbahn, Hamburg is also by considered the city The Beatles first gained traction and fame by playing a 48-night concert series.
The oldest German city is… well, that is a bit disputed. There are several German cities that are claiming the title, including Trier, Worms and Mainz. All three cities are in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, but which city truly holds the title of “oldest city” depends on how one defines the parameters of this record, and what truly constitutes a “city.” The oldest settlement, however, is said to be the Roman and Celtic settlement of “Borbitumagus”, known today as the city of Worms, dating as far back as 5000 BC. Worms is one of the 10 cities listed in the Most Ancient European Towns Network.
The Porta Nigra, an old Roman city gate located in the city of Trier, is one of the oldest and best preserved architectural structures in Germany. It was built around 170 CE, using approximately 7200 blocks of stone.
Germany is home to the world’s oldest brewery: Weihenstephan Abbey (Kloster Weihenstephan) was a Benedictine monastery in Weihenstephan, now part of the district of Freising, in Bavaria, Germany. It is said to have been in continuous operation since the year 1040.
Germany is home to over 20,000 castles. Schloss Neuschwanstein is probably the most famous of them all, located just a few kilometers north of the Austrian-Bavarian border. It was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1868, though he never lived to see his full vision realized. It is rumored to be the real-life inspiration of the Disney classic, Cinderella.
The architecture in the major German cities is a diverse mix of castles, palaces, and cathedrals, some of which date back hundreds and even thousands of years, and modern, glassy, shiny new buildings and structures. The skylines of most German cities appear relatively flat, with only a few steeples and church domes sticking out. The city that most resembles a US city is Frankfurt am Main, which is home to 9 of the 10 tallest high-rise buildings in Germany.
In other parts of Germany, visitors can explore old, fairy-tale type cities and villages, studded with old timber-frame houses. Timber framing, a type of architecture, uses heavy timbers that are carefully fitted and jointed to create the frames of buildings. Half-timbered buildings are a distinct architectural feature of many German cities. The German Timber-Frame Road is a tourist route, some 2000 km long, leading visitors and travelers from the river Elbe in the North, all the way down to Lake Constance in the South, linking many historical cities, sites and monuments. One thing is certain, you will not run out of things to see when traveling to Germany!
Read more about the history and culture of Germany here!
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